Career spy named new head of Britain's domestic espionage agency

LONDON (AFP) - A career intelligence officer who played a lead role in MI5's response to the 2005 attacks on London was on Thursday named the new director-general of the British domestic spy agency.

Mr Andrew Parker, the current deputy director, was also instrumental in foiling an Al-Qaeda plot to attack United States-bound airliners with liquid bombs in drinks bottles in 2006. The 50-year-old will succeed Mr Jonathan Evans, who will retire next month after six years leading the intelligence organisation.

Home Secretary Theresa May said Mr Parker brought "a wealth of experience and knowledge" to the job.

Mr Parker has spent 30 years with MI5 working in the fields of Middle Eastern terrorism, counter espionage, Northern Ireland terrorism and organised crime, the agency said in a statement. As director of international terrorism from 2005 to 2007, he oversaw the expansion of MI5 following the suicide bombings on the London transport system on July 7, 2005, which killed 52 people.

The married father-of-two holds a degree in natural sciences from Cambridge University and lists ornithology and wildlife photography among his personal interests.

"I am extremely proud of the extraordinary work that the men and women of MI5 do to keep the country safe in challenging circumstances. I look forward to leading the service through its next chapter," Mr Parker said.

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